Sunday, January 03, 2010

wha'd he say?

I was looking at the preview squibs for today's games when my eye caught this quote: "This is our bed. We're going to lay in it. We're not going to cry over spilled milk. If there's any level of disappointment in terms of how this thing unfolds, it's going to be on us." The speaker was Steeler's coach Mike Tomlin. It's not a unique instance of the rhetorical freedom that sports figures allow themselves, but it is, as they say, something.

I like better what Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said before the Middies took on (and beat) Missouri in the Texas Bowl yesterday: "We're going to have 11 guys running to the football. We're like 11 hyenas - we're going to take down an elephant sooner or later."

It's Niumatalolo who countermanded the imperative, winning isn't everything; it's the only thing, by telling an interviewer that football, even when Navy plays Army, is only a game. After the Midshipmen victory in this year's edition, he was overcome with emotion; and he said: "I have great, great respect for these men, and this is just a football game. I mean, that’s all it is, but there’s a bigger picture, and I couldn’t be prouder of our young men [meaning the players for Army as well as Navy]." You can see and hear this brief interview here.

I looked through the recaps from yesterday's bowl games to find other vibrant coach quotes but didn't come up with much:
  • "I was embarrassed for the team that we didn't go out and do a better job as far as for the fan base."
  • "They came ready to play. There are no excuses for the loss."
  • "I don't think we played as smart as we needed to."
Player quotes were a little more colorful:
  • "We got gassed; we got tired" (by a defensive end).
  • "I wouldn't say the Pony Express" (by a quarterback).
  • "Whatever it takes, we have to keep these chains rolling" (another quarterback, reporting what he told the team during the second half).
Winning coaches repeatedly praised the "work ethic" of their teams. That may not seem entirely appropriate for kids playing a game, but it's not unusual. Losers were frequently unable to explain losses and quite often fell back on "whatever reason" in order to convey their mystification:
  • "For whatever reason, we didn't play well today,"
  • "We were never involved for whatever reason."
  • "But for whatever reason, we were not ready to go at the beginning of the game."
  • "For whatever reason, we just haven't gotten it done."
I checked the Scoreboard feature of the WaPo sports section and found that the phrase has been used 149 times during the past few weeks. Highlights from the recent past include:
  • "It's just one of those things where they don't want to give us credit for whatever reason."
  • "The '09 year, starting in January with the playoff game, for whatever reason it just hasn't been good football-wise for me,"

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